10 Questions with ... Forest Findley
March 29, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Mary Forest Findley joined the Broken Bow Record Music Group in 2013 as Dir./National Syndication and Radio Strategy. In October of last year, she rose to VP/Marketing. Prior to joining BBR, Findley served six years as VP/Sales & Marketing for Country Aircheck where, as one of Country Aircheck's three founding members, she helped orchestrate the publication's zero-to-in-the-black launch in under six months, achieving dominant market share in less than three years. She previously served as the Country Record Label Sales Representative for R&R. Findley's vast industry experience also includes stints in the Country Music Association's Marketing & Industry Relations Department and in Premiere Radio's Events Department.
1. Mary Forest Findley, thx for taking time for 10 Questions! Congrats on your recent promotion to VP/Marketing at BBR Music Group. Can you give us a thumbnail on what responsibilities your new position entails?
I see my major responsibilities as two-fold. First to be the centralized hub of information. To make sure that the left hand and right hand are in constant communication and on the same page and that we are moving forward succinctly. Secondly to create a buzz, in conjunction with our publicity, digital and promotion departments, on each of our artists - to draw attention to the things that make each so compelling and unique. Every day we need to recruit new fans and keep people talking about our incredible artists.
2. How much of what you are tasked with dovetails with the radio promo teams at BBR.
We work hand-in-hand. There's not much that I do without discussing it with Carson James, Lee Adams, Chris Loss and/or Renee Leymon. It's imperative to know what we are each doing. We constantly crisscross into each other's worlds.
3. This is a pretty fast rise for you over there, after joining the label group in January of 2013. What part of the transition to the label side was the most challenging for you?
The biggest challenge for me is trying to keep up in an ever-changing landscape. Never before have there been so many choices - so many places you can go. Every day a new technology or opportunity presents itself. It's about trying to continuously educate yourself and think outside of the box, without getting to the point where you're not making decisions and moving forward. No matter what, we have to keep moving forward. Indecision - not failure - is my biggest enemy.
4. Part II of that question - what part of the label side did you NOT see coming; something that was the biggest eye-opener for you?
For me this experience is incredibly personal. I'm personally invested in our artists, their music, my co-workers, and this company. I want us to succeed. I really laugh at that saying "it's not personal, it's just business." For me that couldn't be further from the truth - I believe all of this to be incredibly personal for everyone involved.
5. Your label group has some very exciting newcomers that include Chase Bryant, Jackie Lee, and soon, Brooke Eden ... what will be your biggest hurdle in getting media exposure for these artists?
The sheer volume of folks asking for attention. And this is why what we do is tremendously important. All three of these acts have a clearly defined sound and brand. It's about shining a light on what makes them compelling and relatable - making sure they all have their own specific lane to play in and then put them in the best possible situations to succeed. And of course the music has to be stellar, and in each of these cases I believe that to be true.
6. We see so many young artists having success building a fan base via social media these days. Can this effort be just as critical as airplay nowadays, or will airplay always be the first priority?
I think you have to go wherever the audience is. You have to get your music in front of as many listeners as possible. Country Radio is the #1 place where folks discover and listen to music. Digital platforms are also incredibly important and will only continue to grow in importance in my opinion. We need to be everywhere.
7. Before you joined BBR, you had tremendous success handling Sales and Marketing for Country Aircheck, so what was it about jumping to the label side of the biz that was most exciting to you?
First and foremost, I'm a huge fan of music. The label side was tremendously appealing to me because it felt like I could be part of the process - getting the music out to other fans like myself, watching folks fall in love with new artists and be impacted by our music. I love it.
8. Let's back up for a minute -how did a Kentucky girl wind up in Nashville and in the music biz anyway?
I moved to Manhattan after college and worked for almost 3 years at MJI Broadcasting which was then absorbed by Premiere. Ultimately I decided I wanted to be a little closer to home (Lexington, KY). I was a huge Country music fan and Rick Murray, who was with CMA at the time, had a position available in their marketing department. I interviewed and was hired at the beginning of 2003 and the rest is history!
9. Here's one we've been asking everyone for the past year: what's it gonna take for a new, female artist to break through on Country radio? There are so many talented girls, including Lindsay Ell in your company.
When a female hits, she tends to become one of the biggest stars in our format. I'm a huge fan of female voices and am ready to hear more. I want that for Lindsay VERY much - she has the talent and commitment to make it happen. I also love seeing the success that Black River is having with Kelsea Ballerini and that UMG is having with the Mickey Guyton launch. I think first and foremost it starts with an absolutely undeniable song. And once you have that, it takes complete focus & devotion from the team to nurture it. I'm really hopeful that this year we will see some great females break.
10. Besides Lindsay, give us two artists in the BBR galaxy of stars we should be watching in 2015.
Chase Bryant & Jackie Lee. Chase is just wrapping his very first single which went Top 10 and was part of the Brantley Gilbert tour last year and this year he will be out with Tim McGraw. His live show is just undeniable, and he's co-written and produced everything - the kid absolutely has the "X Factor." And Jackie Lee's voice just absolutely blows me away. It's so incredibly powerful. And he has this completely approachable boy-next-door charm. He walks into a room and people take notice. Not to mention that he's HILARIOUS. I mean could carry an SNL show - that funny. They are both going to have a big 2015. And I'm breaking the rules by naming a 3rd but keep your eyes on David Fanning - he has a song that I can NOT get out of my head - "Doin' Country Right." SO excited for him too.
Can Jason Aldean get any bigger? He's sold over 10,000,000 albums and now is on tour w/ Chesney next year?
YES!! He continues to push the envelope both sonically and in his live show. "Burnin' It Down" was one of the most successful singles of his career and this current tour is absolutely incredible. Hands DOWN - there's no live show I enjoy more than his. The moment he walks out on stage, you know you're in for a one-of-a-kind concert experience.
I'm in Lexington, KY for 36 hours and you're my tour guide - What's the plan?
"Well I would suggest coming in either April or October so that you can hit the races at Keeneland. I know everyone gets excited about Derby - but Keeneland is absolutely incredible. And if you come in October - you can also hit a UK Basketball game (or Football) and see what all the madness is about. Love us or Hate us - but, I promise, it's SO fun. And then I would head downtown, which is where I grew up, and hit Dudley's Restaurant for some great food and then walk over to McCarthy's bar for a drink to end the night.